The Cumberland Avenue overhaul project is about to make that all-important transition from discussion to construction.
Knoxville city officials say work on the stretch of road known locally as “the Strip” could begin by the first of June. The Strip runs along the northern edge of the University of Tennessee campus between 16th Street and 22nd Street.
Phase I of the project involves the replacement of decades-old storm water and gas lines, as well as the re-configuration of western end of the road near Tyson Park. That particular piece of the strip is often congested, as drivers on Cumberland Avenue and Volunteer Boulevard attempt to merge onto Alcoa Highway. Approximately 35,000 vehicles move through the intersection each day.
“Phase I is intended to help improve traffic flow in one of the most congested areas along the corridor,” said Project Manager Anne Wallace in a statement. “This work sets the stage nicely for Stage II by improving some alternative routes for getting around the second round of construction.”
Phase II is the largest phase of the project and at $13 million, the most expensive. During Phase II, workers will rebuild the entire strip, installing new signals, wider sidewalks, turn lanes and new medians, as well as aesthetic touches, like landscaping, benches, wrought-iron railings and planter boxes.
The first phase is expected to be complete by the end of 2014. City planners don’t have a specific date of completion for Phase II, but spokesperson Eric Vreeland tells WUOT News the entire project will take “roughly two years.”
The Cumberland Avenue Corridor Plan was originally approved by City Council in May of 2007.
The entire project will cost the city $17 million, but officials say investment from private developers will far outweigh the initial costs.